The industry association European Bioplastics recently released a position paper on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of bioplastics outlining the opportunities and needs of the analytical tool. The paper addresses the careful and knowledgeable use of it and calls for the involvement of the industry. Bioplastics are designed on sustainability criteria thus aiming to improve environmental performance. It is of vital importance that the reliable instrument LCA is guiding the market and technology development of bioplastics and not obstructing it.
Topics such as sustainable development, fossil and natural resources availability, global climate change and waste reduction are more and more dominating political and industrial agendas. Therefore, the relevance of the environmental performance of processes, products and services in decision-making is rapidly growing and LCA results are increasingly being considered as a key input. For that reason European Bioplastics has taken the opportunity to outline its position on LCA.
Bioplastics are based on different raw materials, produced and processed using diverse technologies, tailored to various applications and recovered or disposed of through multiple waste management systems. Consequently the results from LCAs are complex too and do not allow simple conclusions. The environmental performance of bioplastics can only be assessed case by case.
LCA has been used by the industry in order to optimise processes and the environmental performance of products for years. The optimisation potential of bioplastics is huge. Hence projections for improvements can be made and should be included in LCA.
Position paper: Life Cycle Assessment of Bioplastics (PDF Document, 1.5 MB)
European Bioplastics e.V., press release, 2008-12-04.